Instagram, How Do I Love Thee? #Blogtober14 Day 4

Love is too weak a word for what I feel - I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F's.
-Alvy Singer, Annie Hall

The above quote perfectly captures my feelings about Instagram. It is my favorite social media network, without a doubt. Facebook is a time-suck, Twitter is too quick for me and don't get me started on SnapChat. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Instagram is perfect. I can scroll through pictures that make me laugh, and inspire me. I can post ordinary moments from my life, ones that I may have let pass without a second thought. I love looking back at my feed and reminiscing about the past year. There are so many ordinary moments that I am so glad I captured.

I could probably go back and pick my favorite picture from every year since I started using Instagram, but that would be a time-suck that I may not emerge from. So let's just do 2014.

This is my favorite picture of this year. It's recent but it is such a beautiful memory, one that I hope B remembers when he gets older. To celebrate the Dodgers making the playoffs, I surprised B with tickets to the first game, where Clayton Kershaw (his idol) would be pitching. He was so excited and the game was so exciting; not even the Dodgers loss could dampen our spirits.

Surprised Ben with tickets to the #Dodgers playoff game!! #itfdb #goblue @dodgers

Helene in Between Blogtober

Dream Job: Then & Now #Blogtober Day 2

When I was little, I wanted to be Olivia Newton John when I grew up. I thought her whole life was singing and dancing with John Travolta with breaks for exercise and to go to the beach to roll around in the surf.

Sign me up!

However, I can’t sing and I can’t dance in an organized way. And well, I can't live someone else's life. So there goes that.

Once I realized that Olivia Newton-John was the only one who could be Olivia Newton-John, I started looking for role models and the one I landed on epitomized everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She was smart, fashionable, had a great career and an active social life. She juggled her life flawlessly and looked great doing it.

My role model? Day-to-Night Barbie.

She was a busy executive who looked great in a pencil skirt and blazer (I never cared for that hat, though.). Once her day was over, the pencil skirt reversed to reveal a chiffon skirt, perfect for a cocktail party or a night on the town with Ken. I was a HUGE Barbie collector as a child and this one was my favorite.

Nowadays, I love my job. Heck, just yesterday I said I wouldn’tquit my job if I won the lottery. And I’ve realized that my life is pretty close to the one I dreamed about as a child. Sure, I thought I'd be married (again), but I am surrounded by people I love and that love me, I have a career that I love with an active social life. And I can rock a pencil skirt like no one’s business. I’m still not going in for that hat though.

Helene in Between Blogtober

If I Won the Lottery.... #Blogtober14 Day 1

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Oddly enough I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I had to buy a new car recently and I LOATHE buying cars. I hate the pressure, I hate feeling like I’m being swindled, but mostly I hate the credit check. Ever since my business folded and I had to declare bankruptcy, I’ve hated having my credit pulled. I hate the shame I feel. I’m trying to get over that, but it’s slow going.  So when Calgon takes me away, it takes me away to a land where I’m debt-free and don’t have to worry about money ever again.

If I won the lottery, I’d win the PowerBall (because if you’re going to daydream, go big). The first thing I would do is call up a friend who is a business manager to set up the necessary accounts. Then I would pay off every debt I have, from student loans to that new car to my latest parking ticket. I would revel in the feeling of not owing a single cent to anyone. Then I would spread that feeling.

After setting up my son for the future, I would pay off my parents’ debts for them. Same goes for my baby sister. I would want them to know the freedom of being debt-free.

Other than that, my life wouldn’t change much. I wouldn’t buy a new car because I just did that and I kinda love my new car. I would probably buy a house eventually, but again I am content with my little Hollywood bungalow. I wouldn’t quit my job because I love what I do. I might dress a little nicer for work after a shopping spree or two but that’s about it.

After paying everything off, my big splurges would be Dodger season tickets and a new bathrobe. A big, fluffy one like you get at a nice spa or hotel.  Just thinking about it makes me sigh and relax a little.

What can I say? I’m just a simple girl with a dream.

Helene in Between Blogtober

3̶0̶ 29 Days Without Alcohol


Has it really been 30 days? I don't know what I'm more surprised by - that the month went by so quickly or that I didn't post an interim post in that time.

Well, regardless, I did it! And while there were some tempting situations early on, for the most part it was pretty easy. Or rather, it wasn't as hard as I feared it might be.

The first week was probably the most challenging. Without thinking, I decided to stop drinking the same week I had three social commitments. All situations where I most definitely would have drank on any other week.

The first was a dinner party with some colleagues. Not only was I the only person not drinking, I was also the only single person in attendance. In big groups, it's not a problem to be the singleton. But in smaller, more intimate groups it makes me anxious. As the anxiety started to creep up, I realized that this is when I would be reaching for the wine. But this time I couldn't. So I had to get comfortable with it. And that was pretty scary.

I tried to remember to breathe and paid attention to how I was feeling and why. Who thought an impromptu dinner party would cause all this introspection? Here I was, three days in and already facing one of my biggest triggers and in the middle of a dinner party, no less. At this rate, it was going to be a looooong month.

The second event was an evening at The Magic Castle. For those of you that don't know, The Magic Castle is a members-only supper club here in LA for magicians and their guests. It's super kooky and fun and I love going there. Now, for me, magic has just always seemed more amazing when accompanied by  a couple of cocktails. This time, I was stone-cold sober. I was worried that I wouldn't have as good a time or that my friend would think I was a buzzkill. But you know what? The magic was still great and my friend was super supportive. After one magicians' performance, I complimented him and my friend punctuated it with "And she hasn't had a thing to drink tonight!" Apparently, that's a pretty high compliment at the Castle since they don't get a lot of sober patrons.

The third commitment on my social calendar was a night of dancing. That would have a been a tough test and in the end I decided not to go out. Not because it would have been too difficult not to drink (I was feeling pretty cocky after The Magic Castle) but because I was running a Mud Run the following day with my entire family that I had completely forgotten about. I didn't want to be out late the night before having to run a 5K through a course full of mud and obstacles. Hungover or sober, that was going to be a tough morning.

Outside of those instances, the month was fairly easy. Any other time I would have normally drank (work functions, dates, brunch), the anxiety just wasn't there. In fact, at one event, I was pressured to drink but kept my cool and abstained.

On Day 28, I met my best friend for dinner and after some soul-searching, I had a glass of wine with her.  I wasn't pressured, I wasn't anxious, I didn't need it to have a good time. I felt comfortable and safe and I knew I was drinking responsibly.

The main reason I embarked on this challenge was to get real about (& address) the unhealthy reasons I was drinking and to turn the ship around.  There was a lot of introspection and asking myself to just sit with feelings and thoughts I might have otherwise dismissed. Honestly, that was the most valuable thing I gained from this. Just sitting with myself and listening.

Coming Clean

There's something that's been weighing on me recently.

I've begun to wonder if I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. More and more lately, I've wondered "do I have a drinking problem?"

I come from a daily tree filled with addicts - food, alcohol, drugs, gambling. You name it, I'm related to it. There are equal amounts of recovering alcoholics as there are practicing alcoholics in my family. I've always known this, known that that gene is most likely swimming around in my DNA.  But I didn't want that to be me. So I've kept a watchful eye on it. I had limits and rules that I felt kept the threat of addiction at bay.

Never drink alone.
Don't drive if I feel buzzed.
Don't drink when I'm upset.
Don't use alcohol to escape my feelings.
No more than 2 drinks on a weekday.

But lately I have been bending those rules, if not downright breaking them. And while it's ok to cut loose every once in a while, the rule bending was become more frequent. And I don't like it.

I don't like the way I view alcohol lately. As a crutch or an escape. As an eraser that blurs the edges when I'm stressed or anxious. I don't like the way I act when I drink lately - irresponsible, sad, sloppy.  I don't like the way I feel after I drink - sad, ashamed, regretful.

After a couple of incidents recently, I began to wonder if this is how it starts. Is this how it happens? Is this how you become an alcoholic?  I don't want to make the same mistakes my parents made (who does, am I right?). So I decided to go dry for 30 days. Just to see....

I don't think it will be easy; just last night, I walked into the kitchen and put my bags down and thought "What a week! I need a drink". Then I caught myself.

Part of me is scared that this dry month will be really hard and I will have to face some hard truths about my relationship with alcohol. But it's always better to know, than not. And there is a part of me that is excited that I won't HAVE to drink when I am out socializing with friends. I won't have to worry about finishing my drink too fast or not ordering that fourth round. That says something, doesn't it?

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. For more information, visit the National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence.

Welcome to the Juggle

*blows off dust*

Well, what do we have here?

Is this old thing still ticking? It's been far too long since I've actually sat down to write something with the intention of actually pushing PUBLISH at the end of it.

But there is something about this time of year that makes me all kinds of gung-ho and ambitious. School starts next week and I have all kinds of plans about how I will be a much better mom, friend, blogger, employee, sister, etc. starting.....NOW.

I've taken a look at my life lately and now, more than ever, it feels like a juggle. At times manageable and at others...not so much. But I'm feeling optimistic. I think it's the time of year. New beginnings. Unscuffed erasers, sharpened pencils. No mistakes made yet.

I feel like I have let things slide this summer and it's time for a fresh start.

This summer I have totally slacked in the whole nutritious-meals-eaten-at-the-dining-table thing. Instead it's been what-can-I-throw-together-quickly-and-yes-we-can-watch-WIPEOUT-during-dinner. Shameful. So starting Monday (first day of school, woop!), I will be preparing nutritious meals that will NOT be eaten in front of the TV. This means I'm going to have to be better at grocery shopping and the dreaded meal planning. Because I need meals that I can make in about 30 minutes if I'm going to make sure homework is done and the boy is showered and in bed by 8pm. Why so early? Well this year, he has to be at school a full hour earlier than he did last year.

Oy. This is going to be hard.

I am also determined to get lunches prepped and packed the night before. Wish me luck on that. Most mornings I'm scrambling to find something that's nutritious and fun to put in the lunchbox.

Mornings are nearly hectic enough, so let's just add a workout. My second triathlon is in about a month and it's time to kick this into high-gear. An early morning workout will force me to go to bed earlier, right?

I need my head examined.

Because on top of my usual crazy single mom who works full-time life, I decided to go back to school for my Master's. Classes start mid-September and I'm already wondering how I will do this. On the upside, my dating life has been a bit of a joke so it's not like I'll be sacrificing much on that end to complete my assignments.

What is it about this time of year that makes me feel like I can do all this? Work full-time, go to school part-time, co-parent, blog three times a week, workout 4-5 times a week.

Well, I don't call this the Juggle for nothing.